According to the 2020 National Coffee Data Trends Market Research Series from the Specialty Coffee Association and the National Coffee Association, upwards of 40 percent of US residents add sugar or another sweetener to coffee. Too much sugar isn’t great for your health, which has inspired you to drink your coffee black or at least try to. How do you quit the sweet stuff?
Here are 5 tips for getting used to drinking black coffee without sugar:
- Don’t quit sugar cold turkey
- Treat yourself to a new mug
- Make black coffee less bitter with salt
- Try various brewing methods
- Remember why you’re reducing sugar in the first place
In today’s article, we’ll delve deeper into the above tips so you can finally stop pouring mountains of sugar into your coffee. You might just convince your friends, family, and coworkers to enjoy black coffee as well!
Trying to Reduce Sugar and Drink Black Coffee? These 5 Tips Will Help!
Don’t Quit Sugar Cold Turkey
You like to think of yourself as the strong-willed type who can give up anything if you only believe in yourself. Yet quitting sugar is rarely so cut and dried like that.
The reason? Sugar could very well be addictive.
The evidence of such was reported, among other sources, in a 2008 publication of the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.
According to the report: “’Food addiction’ seems plausible because brain pathways that evolved to respond to natural rewards are also activated by addictive drugs. Sugar is noteworthy as a substance that release opioids and dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential.”
That’s not all. Rutgers Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies cites a study from The Journal of Nutritional Neuroscience that involved rats who were given sugar. When the sugar was taken away from the rats, they were reported to have withdrawal-like symptoms.
What these studies tell us is that while eating sugar is not as serious as drug addiction, the way that your body and brain process the sweet stuff does make it like a drug.
If you want to quit sugar altogether or at least cut back on your consumption, omitting it from your coffee is a good way to start. Yet doing it all at once will set you up for failure.
The change to black coffee should be a gradual one. You know how much sugar you take in your coffee. Start by reducing it by a small amount, less than a tablespoon.
Then, each day or each week, cut back more and more until you’re taking your coffee black. The slow regression of your morning sugar consumption will make the adjustment process much smoother.
Treat Yourself to a New Mug
Everyone has their favorite coffee mug they reach for every morning. Perhaps yours has your college alma mater on it or it’s from your favorite TV show, movie, or video game. Filling that cup with caffeinated coffee goodness gets you in the mood to work, so you couldn’t imagine starting the day without it.
Well, we recommend you do more than just imagine, but set that mug aside for a little while and try a new one. Yes, we’re already asking you to give up your favorite type of coffee, and now we’re saying to switch your mug too.
There’s a very good reason for this though, and that’s that your favorite mug might make your black coffee taste not as appealing.
There’s science to back this up, such as this 2014 Flavour study. The goal of the study was to see if a café latte would taste better or worse depending on the mug used for consumption.
First, the participants drank from a white mug, then a blue one. Nothing about the café latte was changed, only the mug.
The participants said that drinking a café latte from a white mug made its taste more intense and not very sweet. In the blue mug, the coffee was reported to taste sweeter. Remember, the coffee the participants drank was the same.
So why the perceived changes in taste? The researchers who did the study have a pretty good idea. As they write, “the white mug might have influenced the perceived brownness of the coffee and this, in turn, may have influenced the perceived intensity (and sweetness) of the coffee.”
Since black coffee doesn’t taste very sweet, based on the Flavour study, we’d suggest a blue mug or another colorful hue, but not white.
Make Black Coffee Less Bitter with Salt
What if even a new mug isn’t helping you get over the bitterness of black coffee? All you need is some table salt to change the flavor for the better. A small amount of salt, 1/8 teaspoon, will neutralize the acidity that makes your black coffee so bitter.
Make sure you add the salt ahead of brewing the coffee. If you already poured a cup of black coffee and you add salt, it might settle on the bottom and leave your drink gritty. Then you’ll detest black coffee even more.
If you want to revise the flavor of your black coffee in other ways, you can always try some spices like cardamom, lavender, or nutmeg. They won’t make your coffee less bitter, but they do improve the flavor without any added sugar.
Try Various Brewing Methods
How do you brew your morning coffee? If you haven’t changed your method since switching from sugary coffee to black, that could be one reason why you don’t like the taste of the latter. The pour-over method is recommended for lighter brews while several other methods work better for dark roasts.
If you don’t already have an espresso maker, investing in one could produce the perfect cup of coffee that you’ve been looking for. When you run coffee beans through an espresso maker, the taste of the beans comes through much louder and clearer than using other brewing methods.
You’ll also feel the caffeine much more intensely after brewing with an espresso maker. If you’re someone who needs two to three cups of coffee to wake up in the morning, you might be able to start your day with only one cup after you brew it in your espresso maker.
A French press is another recommended brewer for black coffee and other dark roasts. Since French press machines are available in all sorts of sizes, even if you have a small apartment, you can still brew café-quality coffee at home every day.
Make sure your coffee grounds are coarse. Take the filter out of the French press, add your beans, pour in hot water, and then put the filter back in. Wait for around 10 minutes, press on the filter, and you have delicious coffee.
Some of the above equipment can be a little expensive, admittedly. Before you spend the money, why not visit your favorite café and try black coffee brewed in all sorts of ways? Once you find your favorite brew, you can buy the necessary equipment to replicate that cup at home every morning.
Remember Why You’re Reducing Sugar in the First Place
If you’re cutting sugar out of your morning coffee, we’d bet that’s not the only place where you’re quitting the sweet stuff in your diet. We talked already about how sugar can be addictive, but that’s not the only reason to have less (or none) of it in your life.
As this Harvard Health article makes clear, the more sugar in your diet, the worse it is on your heart. The article talks about a 2014 study from JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study lasted for 15 years. The participants who consumed the most added sugar, which was over 20 percent of their added calories, were more likely to perish from cardiovascular disease at a rate of 38 percent compared to the participants whose added sugar calories were only eight percent.
Why is that? The liver processes all that sugar into fat, increasing your risk of both diabetes and fatty liver disease. The former can boost your heart disease risk.
Oh, and added sugar also raises your rate of inflammation, sometimes until it’s chronic. Your blood pressure can go up as well, and both these health issues also increase your chances of having heart disease.
Harvard Health says that the amount of added sugar you should consume per day is 150 calories, which is 36 grams or nine teaspoons. That recommendation comes from the American Heart Association.
Added sugar does our health no favors, causing complications that make a person more likely to develop heart disease. Yet sugar can be addictive, so quitting it isn’t easy.
It’s noble that you want to take your coffee black going forward, but the transition from sweeteners to none can be tough. The tips in this article will make the adjustment smoother.
Switch out your mug, find your new favorite dark roast brewing method, and remember to quit sugar little bits at a time. Best of luck!